I ate these for dinner…on accident…but kind of on purpose.
I have to admit something to you guys. When it come to making appetizers, I am not that great. The odd thing is I think creating appetizers are easier than creating a complete meal. I give appetizers way too much power. I over think them too much I think, which is crazy because I absolutely love appetizers. I love them because, in my mind, I think I am saving calories and making smart meal decisions by munching on appetizers because they are so small. So every mini appetizer I eat, I feel that they are only 1-10 calories and I can eat as many as I want without gaining weight. That is not the truth, I know. Especially, when it comes to these Mexican Lasagna Bites.
Have you ever seen the TV cook show called “Big Daddy”? It comes on Food Network, which is where my TV lives. Anyway, I really like him and his recipes because they are simple and comforting. That is where the inspiration for these Mexican Lasagna Bites are from. His recipe is Italian Lasagna Bites, which consists of all the necessities of your basic lasagna such as, basil, oregano, sausage, etc. When he showed the final product I was thoroughly impressed! Now mind you, I seen this episode about over a year ago and it has always stuck with me until I finally decided to make them this past weekend. I made these Lasagna Bites with Hispanic flavors and made an easy and delicious cheese sauce for dipping. I swear, I think I ate about, I don’t know, 10 of them without knowing. But remember, according to how my mind works I only consumed about 10-100 calories (we both know that isn’t the truth). These lasagna bites are fun and very delicious. What I like about this dish is that if you want to bake the Manicotti after they’ve been stuffed you can totally do that. Just pour on some enchilada sauce on top, sprinkle with Fontina cheese, and bake. See! You got two meals out of one. Enjoy!
* Recipe inspired by Big Daddy’s House
- 1½ lb. ground beef
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1oz. taco seasoning
- 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
- ¼ c. diced sliced jalapeno
- 1 tbsp. cilantro
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 2 c. sharp white cheddar cheese
- 14-16 Manocotti Shells
- 5 eggs, whisked
- 3 c. plain bread crumbs
- ½ tbsp. salt
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tsp. ancho chilli powder
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 1/ 2 quarts vegetable oil
- Dipping Sauce
- 4 c. Fontina Cheese
- ¾ c. pico de gallo
- In a large pot with salted water, cook the manicotti shells until al dente. Once cooked, drain and turn to a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Lay out next to one another and place in the refrigerator to cool.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat and saute the onions for 2-3 minutes until softened. Now, add the ground beef and continue to cook until completely brown, about 10 minutes. Drain and remove from heat once cooked.
- Turning to a large bowl, add the taco seasoning, diced jalapeno, cilantro, and the diced tomatoes. Stir until well combined. Once the meat mixture is completely cooled, add the ricotta and white cheddar cheese. Stir until well mixed.
- TIP: Use diced tomatoes that have a Mexican flavor. I used chipotle diced tomatoes. I highly recommend using that flavor if you can find it.
- Remove the manicotti from the refrigerator, be careful to not split, take one manicotti and stuff it with the meat mixture by using your fingers. Make sure the manicotti is stuffed from each ends. Return the stuffed manicotti back to the baking sheet. Repeat process until all manicotti is stuffed. Turn to the freezer and let set for 15-30 minutes.
- Heat vegetable oil in deep fryer on 350 Degrees. Whisk the eggs in a large shallow bowl until whites and yolks are combined. Pour the bread crumbs into a separate bowl or plate and add spices (salt, paprika, ancho chili powder, onion powder) and whisk together. Remove the manicotti from the freezer and cut the manicotti with a sharp knife in 3rds or 4ths.
- Dip the manicotti in the eggs and roll into the bread crumbs. Carefully drop the manicotti pieces into the hot oil and allow to fry for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Remove from hot oil and place on plate lined with paper towel. Repeat process until complete.
- In a microwave safe bowl, add the fontina cheese and place in the microwave for 45 seconds at a time and stir after each segment until smooth. Add the pico de gallo to the cheese and stir until well mixed. Serve alongside with the manicotti bites!